November 28, 2023

There are countless fantastic horror games out there for you to enjoy. You could go for some spooky multiplayer games to play with your friends, or you could dip your toes into an intense solo experience. There are horror games for every genre, tone, and playstyle, but something that is always vital within a horror game is its atmosphere.

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There are plenty of ways to get you trembling as you play through a game, from demons to aliens. Some games will rely on jump scares, but to really scare someone, you need to create a lot of tension and build-up to those more adrenaline-filled moments. A tremendous atmosphere will have you replaying a horror game over and over again. Here are horror games that have managed to master that feeling of dread and unease, creating a perfect atmosphere for you to experience.

Updated October 15, 2023 by Luke Ackroyd: Atmospheric horror games are always an unforgettable experience. If you allow yourself to get immersed in the world the game has created, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for the duration of your playthrough. Whether you are new to the horror genre or love to play every spooky release, you’ll be eager to play the best horror games out there. To help with that search, this list of the best atmospheric horror games has been updated with even more spooky options to consider. From the unease of a mortuary to the dread of exploring an unknown fantasy realm, there is a game out there for you to terrify yourself with, no matter your tastes.

14 The Mortuary Assistant

The Mortuary Assistant - Hallway with message scrawled in blood

The Mortuary Assistant is an unnerving experience that takes place at night in a creepy mortuary. You play as an apprentice who has been asked to do some late-night embalming. While you attempt to get on with your job, you must soon deal with the demonic hauntings that terrorize the rooms. There are also multiple endings to unlock if you’re brave enough to play through the game more than once. The more you play, the more of the mystery you discover.

The concept of working with the dead is already an uneasy thought, but the addition of a demonic entity messing with you keeps you constantly alert to your surroundings. There will be subtle changes whenever you glance away from the body you’re dealing with, a spooky ambiance surrounding you, and, of course, a few jump-scares too. Everything about the game’s atmosphere is perfectly curated to terrify you time and time again. So, what’s stopping you from applying to work at the Mortuary?

13 Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Daniel holding a lantern on top of a box as a Kaernk enemy splashes nearby in Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Waking up with Amnesia is a scary thought all on its own, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent builds upon that unease and creates an even more terrifying atmosphere with it. You begin the game in the depths of a sprawling, dark castle and must desperately attempt to find a way out while also dealing with the hints of your character’s mysterious past.

Of course, you are not alone in this castle. One of the most terrifying aspects of Amnesia’s atmosphere is knowing that, at any moment, a monster could be behind you, ready to chase you down. In first person, you can never fully tell what’s around you, so you must rely on the gripping sound design for warning signs. Your mind will often play tricks on you during the experience, with footsteps in the distance and creaking doors. Your best bet is to run and hide, creating this endless fear for survival.

12 Little Nightmares Series

Little Nightmares 2 Steam The Kids In Front Of The Hospital Furnace

The Little Nightmares games offer a compelling experience that quickly draws you into their creative worlds. Both games fall into the cute but creepy category but will still have you on edge throughout your playthrough. The games have a beautiful art style, immersing you in the setting. Often, you’ll be in dark, shadowy sections, relying on light sources and avoiding terrifying foes. Both games have fantastic world-building that ensures the atmosphere has you enthralled at all times.

The first game has you attempting to escape the Maw, a corrupted entity eager to make you its next meal, as you venture through a prison-like dollhouse. The sequel follows a new protagonist trapped in a strange world distorted by a far-away tower. Little Nightmares and its sequel are well worth spending time on, offering plenty of horror encounters and spooky puzzles to solve. You’ll undoubtedly be in for an unforgettable experience no matter which one you dive into.

11 Bramble: The Mountain King

Bramble The Mountain King Grassy Scene With Birds

Are you keen to explore some Nordic folklore horror? Then Bramble: The Mountain King is a great pick. The game starts quite tranquil and peaceful as you explore a beautiful grassland full of cute little creatures, but before long, the story begins to take a dark, twisted turn as you set out to save your sister from one of the many sinister monsters lurking in this world.

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Bramble: The Mountain King is a surreal, strange, and creepy game that will truly terrify you at times. It is full of heart-pounding moments that are incredibly tense. The shift in tone from the beginning of the game is fantastic, which means you are never quite sure what to expect next. This short but scary game will not disappoint, from thrilling chase sequences to battles in the dark. It’s a unique experience well worth checking out.

10 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil 7: Trapped With The Family At Dinner

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard took the series in a new, creepy direction. Although Resident Evil: Village does continue the story, Biohazard is primarily a standalone experience, which works wonders for its atmosphere. With the shift to a first-person perspective and a feeling of not knowing what to expect from the game, you are left feeling anxious the entire time.

You play as Ethan Winters, who is more of an everyman rather than the unstoppable Leon Kennedy. This gives you a sense of helplessness as you stumble through the Baker house, knowing that, for the most part, running away is your best option. There are countless memorable moments and set-pieces that play up the horror, from creepy found-footage tapes to a very gruesome family dinner. But it’s the moments between the big fights and encounters that give this game an incredible atmosphere. The house is full of unsettling details and decay that have you feeling on edge with each step.

9 Dead Space Series

Isaac Clarke From Dead Space Remake Standing In Dark Room Aboard USG Ishimura

Dead Space is a science fiction survival horror set on a mining ship in the far future. You play as Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is left stranded on a seemingly abandoned ship. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself struggling to survive on your own as you come into contact with vicious aliens known as Necromorphs.

The series is full of fantastic characters, terrifying enemies, and a foreboding atmosphere. With limited supplies and weapons, you’ll feel helpless playing this game. The lack of a HUD also helps build this ominous atmosphere, allowing for a more immersive experience as you navigate the gory aftermath of this alien attack.

8 Darkwood

Steam Coming Across A Large Decaying Creature in Darkwood

Darkwood is an unforgiving survival game in which you must attempt to navigate the mysterious woods. You’ll meet eerie characters and make important narrative decisions while simply trying to survive the deadly nights.

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With a top-down perspective, the game doesn’t have to resort to spooky jump scares to be scary. Just exploring its randomly generated world is terrifying, as you never know what to anticipate next. This, combined with its unsettling sound design, will keep you on edge constantly. The longer you play, the more your decisions impact the world, allowing you to get invested in its spooky atmosphere.

7 Alan Wake

Alan Wake shining his flashlight at the Rain Cove Point Lighthouse across the bridge as its beam spins.

Alan Wake takes place in a small, unassuming town known as Bright Falls. You play as a bestselling novelist who, while visiting the town to help with his writer’s block, soon finds himself swept up in a mystery to find his missing wife as the town becomes possessed by an unknown entity. The story will have you intrigued throughout, and the atmosphere is unforgettable. From the haunting winds as you stumble through locations alone to the way the shadowy threats will creep into view, Alan Wake offers a unique horror experience.

Alan Wake has an incredible atmosphere that pays homage to many classic horrors, such as The Shining. Not only that, but its creative use of light and shadow has you on edge the entire time.

6 Soma

a screenshot of the underwater scenery outside the facility in SOMA

Soma is a fantastic atmospheric horror game that also happens to be set underwater. You play as Simon Jarrett, who wakes up to find himself in a mysterious underwater facility that has fallen into chaos. You’ll encounter various robots during your escape attempt, many of which are convinced they are human.

The game has a great atmosphere, spurred on by a constant feeling of distrust and confusion. There is a lot of psychological horror at play in this game. It is rich with story, and its gloomy, isolating setting creates a frightening experience for you to enjoy.

5 Bioshock

The gatherer's Garden vending machine and the plane crash outside the lighthouse in Bioshock

Bioshock could be considered by many to be more of a thriller, but with its creepy, unsettling atmosphere, there is no denying its horror roots. The game is full of memorable quotes and moments that set the tone of the entire game. Nothing is scarier than encountering your first Big Daddy or sneaking up upon a splicer caring for an imaginary baby. Simply exploring Rapture’s gloomy halls is creepy enough.

Bioshock has a fascinating combat system with various powers you can use, making this game an exciting experience. But even with an action-heavy focus, its atmosphere remains as unsettling as ever as you listen to various audiotapes detailing the life of Rapture before its downfall. The game’s atmosphere is a massive part of why Bioshock is one of history’s most influential horror games. The world-building in this game is fantastic and will engross you from the moment you step foot into that mysterious lighthouse.

4 Among The Sleep

POV of the protagonist meeting Teddy in their room in Among The Sleep

Among The Sleep is a fantastic game if you’re a newcomer to horror games. It takes a unique perspective on horror, placing you into the role of a small child. This enhances the game’s atmosphere as you feel genuinely out of your depth as you search for your mother late at night. The atmosphere works incredibly well at shaping a child’s imagination, creating intricate yet creepy settings for you to explore.

The game uses unsettling audio to keep you on your toes, and so will the various shadow monsters that will hunt you down throughout the game. The game sells that feeling of being just a child, which makes everything all the scarier. The story itself is short but has a lot of depth to it as well.

3 The Last Door

The main entrance to the manor and a figure staring out the window from the library in The Last Door

The Last Door is a beautiful game. With a brief runtime, you do not have long to get lost in its creepy atmosphere. This game shows that even with just a few pixels, you can still get hooked into a spooky narrative, especially with its fantastic sound design keeping you tense.

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In this point-and-click horror game, you are searching for answers about a supernatural entity that seems to be obsessed with you and your friends. The game takes inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. There are two seasons of this game to try out and experience its unsettling atmosphere for yourself.

2 Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2: James And Maria Exploring The Foggy Streets Of Silent Hill

Silent Hill 2 is a great classic that was ahead of its time. This second installment in the Silent Hill series follows the story of James Sunderland, as he is lured to the town of Silent Hill by a letter sent from his wife, who passed away three years ago.

It is a fantastic third-person game that creates an unnerving atmosphere. Every aspect of the game adds to this, from its soundtrack to its psychological narrative, which you can enjoy time and time again as you replay the game to unlock the various endings. The game explores themes of loneliness and suffering perfectly and will have you questioning everything, even the protagonist, as you get lost in the creepy town of Silent Hill.

1 Alien: Isolation

Amanda Ripley ducks behind a desk and uses her Motion Tracker to check for movement in Alien Isolation

Alien: Isolation is a game that feels like a movie. You begin the game as Amanda Ripley, investigating her mother’s disappearance on the Nostromo. You soon find yourself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the unstoppable, terrifying Xenomorph. This game’s atmosphere captures that feeling of helplessness and loneliness perfectly. If you are looking for one of the best atmospheric horror games, look no further.

What makes Alien: Isolation’s atmosphere so tense is the unpredictable nature of the Xenomorph itself. The fact that it will adapt to your playstyle makes it all the more terrifying when you are trying to sneak through a level, unsure when or how it will strike. Alien: Isolation is absolutely horrifying and will have you feeling out of your depth for most of the game. With that said, will you dare attempt its nightmare difficulty level?

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